Round 2 Game 7 Rap
It was over when…Kawhi Leonard’s game-winning shot finally dropped after four bounces around the rim to give the Raptors a thrilling 92-90 Game 7 victory and take the series against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Slow start: Things felt a bit tense from both teams to start, and it was a low-scoring opening quarter. Though Toronto held the Sixers to just 26 percent shooting, the Raptors shot just 21 percent themselves, but still led 18-13 after the first 12 minutes of the game behind an eight-point effort from Kawhi Leonard.
Settling in: Both sides fell into a better rhythm in the second quarter, with the Raptors shooting 53 percent and the Sixers shooting 42 percent. Once again Kawhi Leonard led the way with seven points, while Pascal Siakam added seven points of his own in the period to keep the Raptors ahead at the half, 44-40. The two teams each shot 34 percent in the first half, but Toronto won the battle on the boards, 27-23, including 6-3 on the offensive glass. Leonard led all scorers with 15 points going into the break.
Keeping pace: The third quarter was a grind as the Raptors went ahead by nine only to see the Sixers reel off a 16-0 run to go in front by seven with 4:59 remaining in the quarter. A bucket from Serge Ibaka snapped the run and from there, the Raptors closed the gap and finished the quarter heading into the fourth ahead by three. Kawhi Leonard led all scorers in the third with 11 points, and had a game-high 26 points through three.
Closing time: The fourth was a battle with three ties and four lead changes, none more dramatic than the final shot at the buzzer. With 4.2 seconds remaining and the score tied at 90 on a layup from Jimmy Butler that came after a missed Kawhi Leonard free throw, the Raptors went to Leonard. He responded, and drilled a fadeaway jumper in front of the Raptors bench as time expired. As the entire arena stood — along with everyone in Maple Leaf Square outside — in hushed anticipation, the shot bounced, bounced, bounced, and then bounced a fourth time just for good measure before falling softly through the net. Raptors win.
Raptors player of the game: Kawhi Leonard scored 41 points to go with eight rebounds, three assists and three steals, including the game-winning shot to give the Raptors this Game 7 victory. He scored 13 of Toronto’s final 15 points in the game, set a franchise record for most points scored in a Game 7, and became just the second player in NBA history to hit a game-winning buzzer-beater in a winner-take-all playoff game. Leonard joins Michael Jordan who did it in a five-game series against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round in 1989. Leonard became the first person to ever hit a game-winning buzzer-beater in Game 7 of a seven-game series.
Underrated Raptors player(s) of the game: Serge Ibaka came off the bench to score 17 points in 29 minutes. He outscored the Sixers reserves 17-8 by himself, had eight rebounds, and nearly matched Philadelphia’s offensive rebound total with four offensive rebounds to Philadelphia’s five. When Ibaka was on the floor, the Raptors were a +22. Kyle Lowry finished with 10 points, six rebounds, six assists, and two steals, and whenever the team seemed in need of a big play, Lowry was there. Whether it was drawing a charge — something he did twice in the game —, or a perfectly timed steal — like the one with 1:17 remaining that led to a Pascal Siakam layup to put Toronto in front by four — Lowry was there, finding a way to get it done for his team.
That’s a rap…
“It was Game 7 and I didn't want to leave any shots in my mind. I just wanted to go out and leave it all on the floor.” - Kawhi Leonard on his 41-point performance
By the #’s…
38… Percent shooting for the Raptors, 43 percent shooting for the Sixers.
49… Rebounds for Toronto, compared with 41 for Philadelphia.
16… Offensive rebounds for Toronto who held a dominant 16-5 edge on the offensive glass.
38… Points in the paint for the Raptors, 26 for the Sixers.
21… Points scored off 17 Philadelphia turnovers by Toronto. In comparison, the Raptors turned the ball over 10 times, leading to 13 points scored by Philadelphia.
They said it…
“It was cool, man. All the fans, the team, everybody around. It was crazy. It was a good emotional moment for everybody to be there. A sigh of relief…It was great. One of those moments, a real-life game-winner, Game 7…It was a pretty awesome moment.” - Kyle Lowry on the moments after Kawhi Leonard’s game-winner
“It’s amazing to me, whether we’re in the huddle, locker room or film room, he’s always locked in on what the coaching staff is saying and I think that’s an interesting thing about him. He’s very coachable. He’s focused and pays attention. I think that’s a pretty big statement to say that. Then you get to his play in the playoffs and it’s been at an elite level. Determined level. Tonight I thought he was awesome on both ends. That again is his uniqueness.” - Nick Nurse on Kawhi Leonard’s focus
“I just knew I had to shoot it high. A couple of possessions before that I had the same kind of shot from three and ended up coming up short. I just thought I had to put it up higher than that. Ended up getting a soft touch and it went in.” - Kawhi Leonard on his game-winning shot
“I wanted it so bad. I wanted it so much. After the last Game 6, we lost and I came back and all that was on my mind was thinking about how to make shots, how to make these open shots for us to be successful. We know Kawhi is going to be Kawhi, all those guys are going to be [themselves], but my job, I have to make those shots and grab a couple of rebounds.” - Serge Ibaka on his big impact off the bench
Up next: The Raptors advance to face the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals. Game 1 will be Wednesday in Milwaukee at 8:30 P.M. ET.